Julia Roberts is unexpectedly reunited with her (troubled) young adult son in the newly-released teaser trailer for Ben is Back. The drama was written and directed by novelist-turned filmmaker Peter Hedges, who is directing his real-life son (and fellow Oscar nominee) Lucas Hedges here.
Roberts stars in Ben is Back as Holly Burns, a woman whose son Ben (Lucas Hedges) returns home without warning one Christmas Eve, seemingly well-adjusted and problem-free. Unfortunately, Holly soon learns that Ben’s previous issues are far from behind him and, thus, struggles to keep her family from falling completely apart over the 24 hours that follow. Courtney B. Vance (American Crime Story) costars as Holly’s husband and Ben’s step-father Neal, along with Kathryn Newton (Blockers) as Ben’s biological sister Ivy. For more on that, watch the teaser trailer for Ben is Back in the space below.
The teaser hints that Ben is Back is very much a slice of dysfunctional family drama cut from the same cloth as Peter Hedges’ novel-turned movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (which he also scripted), as well as his directorial debut Pieces of April – a film that, like Ben is Back, revolves around a family gathering over the holidays (Thanksgiving, in that case). It’s similarly narrative territory that Roberts seems comfortable operating in at this point, especially after her performance in John Wells’ big screen adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Southern familial melodrama play, August: Osage County. Roberts ultimately landed an Oscar nod for her efforts in the latter, and it’s certainly possible that history will repeat itself here, in that regard.
Lucas Hedges, for his part, should only further establish himself as being a terrific young character actor with his own work on Ben is Back. The actor landed his first acting Oscar nod for Manchester By the Sea and followed that by delivering well-received supporting turns in no less than two Best Picture Oscar nominees last year (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird). He will share the screen with some highly accomplished veteran actors yet again this fall, between his performance in Ben is Back and his leading role opposite Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman in Joel Edgerton’s LGBTQ+ conversion therapy memoir Boy Erased.
As it were, next month’s Toronto International Film Festival will mark the world premiere for two Julia Roberts projects; namely, Ben is Back and the premiere episode for Amazon Studios’ dramatic thriller series Homecoming. Boy Erased will also screen at this year’s TIFF, along with too many other awards season hopefuls to recount in full here (including, the latest film by Oscar-winning directors Damien Chazelle and Steve McQueen). Ben is Back will have to be something pretty impressive to stand out in a crowd like that, but who knows: it may yet surprise and begin to generate more buzz, following its appearance on the film festival circuit.
Ben is Back opens in select U.S. theaters later this year on Friday, December 7.
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